MIAMI—Long considered a marginal long-haul destination, Boston is experiencing a massive growth on that front. In the past three years the airport has seen a dozen new routes announced from eight different carriers serving destinations around the globe. And, of those new routes, half are operated by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Want non-stop service from Boston to Asia? Japan Airlines (JAL) was the first to fly such service and it uses the 787. Hainan Airlines followed a couple years later with service to Beijing and, a year after that, service to Shanghai. Norwegian Air Shuttle has bet big on the 787 for its long-haul LCC expansion and three new destinations – London, Copenhagen & Oslo – will launch in early 2016 from Boston with the type. The 787 is not the only aircraft opening up new international destinations for Boston. Emirates and Cathay Pacific brought their 777s to town while Turkish and Qatar Airways are using Airbus wide-body aircraft in their efforts. But the frequency of 787 service is noticeable and significant.
Boston is not alone in seeing this phenomenon. m Compton described as a game-chaSan Diego added service to Japan thanks to the 787, as did San Jose, California. The latter also added Hainan Airlines service to China on the 787 and British Airways service from London was just announced for a 2016 launch. Austin, Texas saw its first intercontinental service launch with British Airways bringing a 787 into town, a route which was eventually up-gauged to a 777. JAL is returning to DFW. American added China service from DFW. United brought connectivity between Denver and Tokyo. United Airlines also used the 787 to launch non-stop service to Melbourne, Australia, a move which Jinger economically. Speaking at the International Aviation Forecast Summit recently Compton explained the shift there:
Australia is a very competitive market. And for us the challenge in the Australia was flying Sydney-Melbourne, a tag. That tag was incredibly a loser for us in terms of financial results. The 787-9 changes the economics for us. No longer is the tag there. It is sized for the market on its own.
Outside the US there are many more examples of 787s opening new long-haul markets. LCCs in Europe are using the type to fuel expansion, such as Arkefly’s 10 new routes from the Netherlands across the Atlantic Ocean into Caribbean islands. Air India is now serving Australia. Norwegian has 20+ routes crossing the Atlantic on the type. These are just some of the nearly 250 long-haul (>3500 miles) routes filed to fly on 787s. Many did not and would not exist without the new, more efficient aircraft.
Yes, for some airlines the new 787s are simply a means to upgrade aging aircraft in their fleet. But a sizable portion of the 787s in service are opening new markets and launching new opportunities. Norwegian just announced an order for two more of the type, this time the –9s which add capacity and range. And with fuel costs holding low right now there is a much stronger chance that these operations will remain profitable, especially thanks to the significantly lower per-seat mile costs the 787 presents versus prior generation aircraft. The initial marketing plan from Boeing focused on “long, thin” routes. Several airlines are now proving that some of the routes are not so thin after all. Boston and San Jose are two markets working to prove that.